Gosh, I'd been wanting to come here for awhile, but the fact that I couldn't make reservations always put me off. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and headed down with another friend last Saturday. We got there at 7:30ish, and was told that the wait would be around 45 minutes. Not too bad, and we weren't in a rush anyway.
We sat at the bar while we waited, and with the incredible help of the bartender, selected a bottle of wine. My friend wanted something slightly sweet, which I have an aversion to. The bartender chose a Veltliner (sp?), saying that the fruity overtones would fool her palate, but that I wouldn't find it cloying. He was on the mark. Eventually, we ended up getting a platter of three cheeses - again, the bartender helping us narrow down the vast selection. I only wish I knew the names, we just sort of nodded after we told him generally what our tastes were.
Right when the cheeses came, we were told our table was ready. The wait ended up only being about 25 minutes. Ah, the menu. So many choices. Eventually, while nibbling on our cheese and bread, we ended up ordering the truffled egg toast (I'd heard so much about it!), the proscuitto and pesto panini, and the polenta. All were divine. I think I'd expected the egg on the truffled egg toast to be scrambled, for some reason - it was actually fried, rather like an egg in the hole (although the egg rested atop the bread rather than in it), the yolk all runny, with a drizzling of heavenly-scented truffle oil, served atop ... asparagus, I think? I wasn't quite sure. The panini was well-executed - thin, crisp, nice balance proportionally between the bread and filling. The polenta was in a little cake form, served with fresh peas, carrots, and perhaps some other vegetables? I was approaching food coma at this point.
The only disappointment was the dessert. After all the marvelous choices for the meal, the dessert menu seemed rather sparse, and we ended up ordering the ricotta cheesecake. It seemed to be dry and a little crumbly to me, rather blah in taste as well as in texture. I'd have liked to have tried the panna cotta, but another time perhaps.
Service throughout was excellent. I would probably have preferred to eat at the bar, because I always like talking to the bartender, but my friend wanted a real table, claiming that sitting on bar stools detracts from her dining experience. Love the dark woods; it felt very cozy. Low lighting, but not dim to the point where I couldn't see anything. It was noisy, but not overly so. I could hear my friend talk, and that was enough for me.
By the time we left at around 9:45ish, the restaurant was full and there was quite a wait for tables. It's a great place to catch up with friends, as well as rather nice for a date (although the waiting for a table part could be a slight drag).
The tab came to around $45/person with tax (and tip? can't remember!) for 1 bottle of wine, 1 plate of 3 cheeses, 3 items off the menu, 1 dessert, 1 glass of dessert wine and 1 cup of tea.
I'd return in a heartbeat. If I could find a place in Boston like 'Inoteca, I'd be such a happy camper..